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Can Anyone Write Poetry?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Tracing the word back to its original Greek, “poetry” came from a word meaning to make or create. Poetry usually refers to words in verse, but rhyming is not required to write a poem and, yes, anyone can write poetry!

 Did you know that we have a Poetry Month? Do you know why? Poetry is an art that goes back centuries and both men and women wrote poetry. Having a month for poetry brings attention to an art that is versatile and engaging, although perhaps not as studied and practiced as other arts.

Guess what? This month of April is Poetry Month, so let us write a poem! Some of our most memorable writers in history were poets. Edgar Allen Poe’  “The Raven” is quite memorable indeed. What about reading a short poem by Ogden Nash

Kids usually like these. Once they get the hang of hearing poems, perhaps read a Shakespeare sonnet and see how it is received.

You can also have kids choose a topic on one of their favorite subjects, such as a pet dog or cat, hiking, fishing, or perhaps at the beach, and have them write a poem about it.

Perhaps a favorite game they play or a favorite food they eat? For example, my cat’s name is Nicholas and I call him “Nicky” for short.

This one is for the kids:

I have a cat named Nicky

whose paws are sometimes sticky.

He plays in the days,

and naps where he lays.

So goes my cat named Nicky!

 Remind the kids that poets may write and rewrite many times before they find the words they want. Start simple. Perhaps the funnier the poems, the easier they will be to write.

 After their experimental play with poetry, why not create a team poem or a class poem? Perhaps a poem a day throughout a month, where each kid has a chance to share a poem he or she likes or wrote? Perhaps the subject is “A Summer’s Day.” All kids can relate to that. Have the kids provide words that remind them of a summer’s day. As the kids suggest them, write them on the black or white-board.

After you have brainstormed ideas with them, begin to place them in phrases. They may want some lines to rhyme and not others.

Once kids feel comfortable playing with poetry, they can learn about poetic rhythm. When I was studying poetry, the teacher had us listen to poetry being read. It gave me an entirely different relationship with poetry, as it reminded me of singing. Later in life, I heard an Ovid poem read aloud in Greek, and could hardly believe the beauty of the sounds. Listening to poetry, then, enlivens another sense and brings us closer to the essence of the art of poetry.

Ultimately, poetry is not a “thing;” it is a feeling or a tone; perhaps a tiny story, a lesson, a loss, a joy. Through poetry, we can experience another aspect of our humanness. So don your best poet garb and begin to compose!

Arts enrich us!

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